ODU wrestlers making the grade on and off the mat

Posted at 4:28 PM, May 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-20 16:28:23-04

Norfolk, Va. - When we think athletics and academics, we think about Harvard, Brown , Stanford, Old Dominion, Princeton. And yes, we did say Old Dominion.

The Monarch Wrestling Team is second in the nation in GPA behind the Crimson of Harvard according to the NCAA.   That's thanks to wrestlers like Tristan Warner and Matt Tourdot.

The rising seniors work harder off the mat than they do on.  In fact, Tristan was honored with the Elite 89 Award this year.  It’s the Heisman Trophy of academics.  He is the top student athlete in the country in his sport.

“You go to ODU, people say it’s not that prestigious of a school, blah blah blah. All you guys just take easy classes, but I think we live in an excuse-making society, and I think people will just try to downgrade our accomplishments and that just adds more fuel to the fire. We want to work harder," says Tristan.

Tristan is a double major and currently holds a 3.97 GPA.  What does he think about the stereotype that jocks skate by?

“I put a lot of effort outside of the classroom into my studying.  It is kind of funny because when you go into classes a lot, teachers always and students see you are a wrestler and they think like you said you’re a dumb jock. They read my papers and they don’t believe I wrote it.  They think somebody wrote it for me.  I have had that a lot.  I am just trying to change the stereotype," says Tristan.

“I don’t really like it.  I understand where it comes from sometimes because there are ones who don’t always do it, and people see that, but what people don’t understand is that there are a whole bunch of them that are studying all the time and working their butts off,” says Matt who holds a 3.56 GPA and is studying to be a veterinarian

“I put a lot of work into my classes,” says Matt.

His toughest class last semester was invertebrate zoology.

“We tell them right up front when we recruit them. We tell them the goals; the number one goal is to graduate, get your degree, get your internship, put you in the workforce. Number two is to make you into a national champion and all-American . The third area is social life, and we do not have a high emphasis on that. You can be great in two and average in three; they know the grades, the wrestling and the behavior on and off the mat is important,” says Coach Steve Martin.

What’s important to Tristan and Matt is not getting a pin but getting a certificate?

“It is real nice living in the house where I live at. All my roommates, we all study and stuff like that and cut out the distractions.  I know I have the rest of my life after college to go out on the weekends and have fun.  I can do it then but for now, it is all business,” says Tristan.

“It’s pretty cool. I like sharing it on Facebook and my friends can see that not only are we working at wrestling, we are working hard at studying and doing well in classes,” says Matt.

Steve Martin says, "They call us the Harvard of the South. We are calling Harvard the ODU of the North."

Virginia Tech was ranked 16th while UVA was not ranked in the top 30.